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Friday, October 26, 2007

Mah Sing eyes en-bloc sales and more land

By theSun

MAH SING Group Bhd is looking at enbloc sales of its commercial developments
as well as acquisitions of more prime land to improve the group’s earning growth.

“We have received considerable investor interest, both local and foreign,
for our commercial properties as prices in Malaysia are still relatively cheap compared to regional peers,” says its group managing director Datuk Leong Hoy Kum (pic). Leong was speaking to reporters after the group’s EGM yesterday to approve the acquisition of Southbay Penang and the en-bloc sale of The Icon Jalan Tun Razak’s West Wing to Koperasi Felda.

Southbay Penang is the group’s first mixed development in the northern part of Malaysia, while The Icon Jalan Tun Razak is a 20-storey Grade A office development
in the heart of KL’s city centre.

“Moving forward, we aim to conclude more en-bloc sales for our Icon series of
commercial developments, including the East Wing of The Icon Jalan Tun Razak
and The Icon Mont’Kiara, to enhance and boost shareholders’ wealth and returns,”
says Leong.

He is confident that the group’s other commercial development, Southgate
Commercial Centre, also in the heart of KL’s golden triangle, will be well received,
as there is currently a shortage of Grade A offices in the area.

“For instance, YTL Land & Development’s d7 units in Sentul East were snapped up within an hour of their pre-launch sale, signifying a huge demand for such properties in the KL city area,”
notes Leong.

Southgate Commercial Centre is targeted for launch next year and will be open for registration soon. Prices for the office suites will start from RM420 psf.

According to Leong, Mah Sing also plans to venture into East Malaysia, and regional countries such as Vietnam, China, India, Indonesia and the Middle East. “We are currently exploring areas like Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, and Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam, although there is
nothing concrete yet.”

He sees a lot of potential to develop in those areas, especially in East Malaysia,
where there is room for improvement in the homes there.

“It is time for them to upgrade and we are pleased to introduce our niche products and gated and guarded concept there to cater to the needs of the people,” says Leong. The group is looking for jointventure projects with private landowners there.

An artist's impression of The Icon Mont' Kiara

Mah Sing is also eyeing part of the 3,000-acre plot in Sungai Buloh where the Rubber
Research Institute (RRI) is located. It is understood that at least 10 parties have put
in bids for it. The tract is located adjacent to the Kota Damansara township and is within the
vicinity of upmarket developments such as Bandar Utama and Tropicana. According
to The Edge Malaysia, among the parties interested in the said piece of land include
MK Land Holdings Bhd, Worldwide Holdings Bhd, and tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary via Tradewinds Corp. Although Mah Sing has not put in an official bid, Leong says the group is “very interested” if given the opportunity, as the area “is fantastic.”

On the property outlook for next year, Leong is confident it will continue to do well, following the spillover from the NinthMalaysia Plan (9MP), conducive interest rate environment, high savings rate, sustained economic growth momentum and low unemployment rate.
“This will be further boosted by recent incentives for the property sector as announced in Budget 2008, and Mah Sing will implement several complementary measures to benefit home buyers,” he says.

The group has 10 ongoing projects for next year, four of which will be launched.
These will be The Icon Mont’Kiara, Southbay Penang, Southgate Commercial
Centre and the Duta Perdana residential development in Puchong.

Leong says Mah Sing is planning these launches to capitalise on the recent incentives for the property sector announced by the government. “There is about RM9.6 billion to be tapped from the property market due to withdrawals from the EPF for home financing from next year

Mah Sing has a total landbank of 626 acres in the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang, with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM4.2 billion, ensuring earnings visibility for five to seven years.

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